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Colorado’s U.S. District Attorney Needs to Stop Prosecuting Small-Time Marijuana Growers – Medical Marijuana Program Connection


No one should go to federal prison for cannabis – especially in Colorado, where the plant commands a A $2 Billion Industry. And yet it is still happening.

Coloradans will be surprised to learn that our US Attorney’s Office has targeted low-level residential marijuana growers for federal prosecution, some of whom are facing mandatory ten-year prison terms. The data reveals that those prosecuted are disproportionately people of color and immigrants. Meanwhile, the federal government turns a blind eye to majority-white cannabis companies making billions despite violating those same federal laws as the unlicensed small grower. Some get rich and some go to jail for years, despite violating the same federal laws.

Prosecutorial discretion is the reason. Prosecutors have the power to decide what type of cases to investigate, who to prosecute and what sentences to impose. Federal prosecutors can target resources where they are needed and let states handle local affairs. The U.S. attorney may decline to focus on drug cases — and may instead focus on police brutality and civil rights abuses, or cybercrime, or domestic terrorism, or other challenges facing communities.

Declining to prosecute federal marijuana offenses is particularly appropriate given the widespread support for national legalization and proposals for federal legalization, which seems only a matter of time. Deaf in tone, our US Attorney continues to put some people in…

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No one should go to federal prison for cannabis – especially in Colorado, where the plant commands a A $2 Billion Industry. And yet it is still happening.

Coloradans will be surprised to learn that our US Attorney’s Office has targeted low-level residential marijuana growers for federal prosecution, some of whom are facing mandatory ten-year prison terms. The data reveals that those prosecuted are disproportionately people of color and immigrants. Meanwhile, the federal government turns a blind eye to majority-white cannabis companies making billions despite violating those same federal laws as the unlicensed small grower. Some get rich and some go to jail for years, despite violating the same federal laws.

Prosecutorial discretion is the reason. Prosecutors have the power to decide what type of cases to investigate, who to prosecute and what sentences to seek. Federal prosecutors can target resources where they are needed and let states handle local affairs. The U.S. attorney may decline to focus on drug cases — and may instead focus on police brutality and civil rights abuses, or cybercrime, or domestic terrorism, or other challenges facing communities.

Declining to prosecute federal marijuana offenses is particularly appropriate given the widespread support for national legalization and proposals for federal legalization, which seems only a matter of time. Deaf in tone, our US Attorney continues to put some people in…

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